The Flight: Charles Lindbergh's Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing. By Dan Hampton. New York: William Morrow, 2017. Glossary. Bibliography. Notes. Index. Pp. 317. $18.86, $12.99 (Kindle) ISBN: 978-006246439-2
Another book about Lindbergh's 1927 flight from New York to Paris! Overkill was my initial reaction; the Lindbergh shelf is overloaded! As an nonagenarian born before "Lucky Lindy's" historic flight--who read We, his personal account of the experience, as soon as I could read--what could Hampton possibly tell me that I didn't already know? The answer: A lot!
Three key elements make the book an excellent addition to the Lindbergh story: Hampton's subject matter expertise, his prodigious research, and the ability to meld both into excellent prose.
A retired Air Force fighter pilot, Hampton says his "purpose in these pages is to put the reader into the cockpit of the Spirit of St. Louis during those thirty-three and a half hours on May 20 and 21, 1927, and to fly along with him." Not to second-guess Lindbergh the pilot, but to clarify, for readers, what Lindbergh had to know and what he had do to achieve his goal. For Example, in preparing the aircraft for the flight, Lindbergh assisted designer Don Hall in modifying it. Hall stated that "The presence of Charles Lindbergh, with his keen knowledge of flying, his understanding of engineering problems, his implicit faith in the proposed flight, and his constant application to it, was a most important factor in welding the entire [aircraft] factory organization into one smoothly running team."
Yes, Lindbergh was a brilliant pilot, but he was also informed and effective in dealing with all facets of the flight including the unexpected. Flying solo, Lindbergh also had to be the navigator. Drifting off-course early in the flight would cost fuel leaving the aircraft short of the goal. Hampton explains in detail how Lindbergh mastered the navigation and dealt with other contingencies.
Hampton's prodigious research about not only Lindbergh but also the decade in which the historic flight was achieved, enhances the book's value. It was a turbulent world that Hampton describes in detail. As newspapers were the principle source of information about the flight, Lindbergh discovered...